- Director Sarah Kernochan told Insider that Harvey Weinstein acquired her 1998 film, “All I Wanna Do,” and then promptly buried it.
- She said he lashed out at her at a screening, ordered the film be re-cut, then refused to actually release the film in theatres.
- Weinstein told the New York Post over the weekend that he had done more for women filmmakers than anyone else.
- Kernochan speculated that Weinstein acquired her film to get closer to the young female cast.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A female director whose debut feature film was acquired by Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s says her movie was shelved by the film mogul, a move she says ultimately ruined her career. Now she wonders how many other women went through the same experience as she did.
Filmmaker Sarah Kernochan spoke to Insider after Weinstein gave an interview to the New York Post, in which he said he had done more for women filmmakers than anyone else. He told The Post he “pioneered” the idea of making movies directed by women and about women.
“It might be very true that he gave women more opportunities, but that doesn’t say what he did to them,” Kernochan told Insider. “And I wonder if there are more women out there like me, whose careers he totally destroyed.”
In a story first told to author Peter Biskind for his 2013 book, “Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent film,” and later relayed to Insider, Kernochan said Weinstein acquired her debut feature film, a 1960s-set comedy called “All I Wanna Do,” for $US3.5 million in 1998.
The film featured rising stars of the moment – Kirsten Dunst, Gaby Hoffmann, Rachael Leigh Cook, Heather Matarazzo and more.
Weinstein told Kernochan’s producers that he wanted to re-cut ‘All I Wanna Do.’ Then, Kernochan says, he lashed out at her.
Weinstein attended a screening of Kernochan’s film in New Jersey as it was going through its final edits, Kernochan said. She said he showed up late, holding up a theatre full of people.
When the film was over, Kernochan said, Weinstein told her producers that he wanted to cut eight to 10 minutes of the film.
Kernochan, who contractually had say over the final cut, told Weinstein: “Yes, I would like to hear what cuts you have in mind.”
She told Insider that Weinstein balked at the intimation that she might not take his advice, turned around toward her, and said: “F— you, you don’t know anything. None of you filmmakers know s—, this is what I do and this is why I’m rich, and the only person I don’t do it to is Quentin Tarantino.”
She said Weinstein later apologised, saying he was in therapy and was working on not lashing out.
Kernochan told Biskind that Weinstein said it was a habit of his to lash out, and recalled him saying, “I do it because I’m passionate about movies.”
‘All I Wanna Do’ made just $US300,000 its opening weekend. Kernochan said Weinstein failed to publicise it.
Kernochan said she was told “All I Wanna Do” would be screened in 2,000 theatres across the United States. But that’s not quite what happened.
Instead, Kernochan said she watched as Weinstein’s Miramax gave “All I Wanna Do” no publicity, and eventually, a limited release. It was shown in 133 theatres total, according to IMDB, and made just over $US300,000 on its opening weekend in August 1998.
Kernochan told Insider that she then spent $US100,000 – all of her savings – to put an ad in the New York Times and have the movie screened for one week at a theatre in New York. Eventually, the film was acquired by Disney and went straight to video.
Years later, when Weinstein became the focus of dozens of sexual misconduct allegations from actresses and former Weinstein Company employees, Kernochan speculated that Weinstein acquired “All I Wanna Do” to get closer to the young female cast.
“In the light of #MeToo I know (sic) believe Harvey Weinstein never intended to release AIWD,” she wrote on Twitter in April 2018. “He wanted to help himself to the young pretty cast members. Rumour reached me years ago that he tried. Ironic that the movie contained a pervy character just like him.”
Kernochan wouldn’t name the actress but said that Weinstein once asked one of the girls up to his office alone. The actress had just cut her hair short, and Kernochan speculated Weinstein lost interest in her because of that.
No one who was in the film has publicly made allegations against Weinstein.
Kirsten Dunst later went on to star in the 2001 Miramax teen movie “Get Over It.” Another actress from the film, Melissa Sagemiller, told Huffington Post in 2017 that Weinstein made advances toward her on three separate occasions while making the film. She speculated that the producer didn’t go after Dunst or co-star Mila Kunis because they were both underage at the time.
Sagemiller is one of dozens of women who have come forward to accuse the producer of sexual misconduct.
A spokesperson for Weinstein denied Kernochan’s allegations, calling her recollection “highly suspect.”
“The validity of Ms. Kernochan’s decades-old recollection of the quality of her film at that point is highly suspect and so is her ‘speculation’ as the reasons,” he said. “Her film simply did not meet Miramax’s standards and Mr. Weinstein pushed people to make the films they distributed the best they could be. That was and is his talent. A better version was ultimately released. These unfounded claims are just the latest example of individuals attempting to capitalise on the moment and thrust themselves into the spotlight.” he said, before calling her “disgruntled worker, nothing more.”
Controlling directors was ‘almost an addiction’ for Weinstein, Kernochan said.
In the years after “All I Wanna Do” was released, Kernochan directed a short documentary called “Thoth,” about a New York street performer, which in 2002 won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. She has continued to write, and in 2015 wrote “Learning to Drive,” which became a film featuring Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson.
While Kernochan doesn’t personally know of any other female directors who experienced backlash from Weinstein, she named Alexander Payne as a male director who had clashed over cuts with the film mogul – Weinstein’s Miramax had tried to get Payne to re-cut the ending to his debut, “Citizen Ruth.”
Kernochan said she and Payne weren’t the only ones.
“With Harvey it’s almost an addiction. It was addicting for him to come in, throw them against the wall, soften them up, take the movie away and re-cut it,” Kernochan told Insider of Weinstein cutting films. “You never heard anyone mention that he was as much of a destroyer as he was a creator.”
Kernochan said Hollywood is changing – there’s a lot of “trembling” going on among men, and more women are being hired to do jobs they wouldn’t have previously.
“I believe in Karma, but some guys just get away from it. I thought that would happen with Harvey because I didn’t think he had any vulnerabilities,” she told Insider. “All people knew about Harvey was that he was a creative genius, but you don’t hear about all of the movies that he eviscerated, the ones that stayed on the shelf or were just dumped because he got bored.”
- Read more:
- Harvey Weinstein says he has done more for women in Hollywood than any other filmmaker, and says rape accusations made him the ‘forgotten man’
- A woman who works with sexual misconduct survivors says Harvey Weinstein’s tentative $US25 million settlement isn’t surprising because victims are used to settling for ‘less than what we deserve’
- Harvey Weinstein and his accusers have tentatively reached a $US25 million agreement where he won’t have to admit wrongdoing – or personally pay them damages
- These people tried to protect Harvey Weinstein. Here’s what they have to say for themselves now.
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